Recipes for a Perfect Marriage is a novel by Kate Kerrigan. I have put off writing a review as I just know I cannot get across how great this book is.
My marriage is less than perfect so the title got my attention straightaway. Most people I know urge me to leave my husband and others praise me on sticking with it through good times and bad. Whoever is right, the fact is my marriage and I guess many others did not live up the fantasy we were sold in the Seventies and Eighties.
I heard Coleen Nolan saying how she expected fairy tales as if she lived in a Doris Day movie. I think many women can empathise with that. It’s hard for it to be all hearts and flowers in the medium to long term of a relationship.
Anyway, I digress as this is about a book not about my marriage or Coleen’s for that matter.
We follow two tales in the book one modern and one from yesteryear, one in America and one in Ireland. We meet food writer Tressa who is questioning whether she rushed into her marriage to Dan out of a fear of being in her late thirties and on the shelf.
We also meet Tressa’s grandmother Bernadine who is married off to the local schoolteacher after things go wrong with her one true love.
Tressa idolises the marriage of her grandparents and is inspired by her grandma’s recipes. She tries them out in an attempt to distract herself from her own difficult questions about her marriage.
I liked this book because all the characters have strengths and flaws just as humans do. Too often in books, characters are simplified into the good guys and the bad guys. Is life ever that simple?
I think I enjoyed Bernadine’s story more than Tressa’s but then it was based in Ireland which I am fascinated due to the 100 per cent Irish blood running through my veins and the fact that I have never lived there. Maybe I am more like Tressa than I think as I got married in my late thirties thinking perhaps it was now or never.
I enjoyed the steadiness of Bernadine’s husband and her little rebellions. Very late in the book there is a twist when we find out that Bernadine’s “one that got away” is perhaps not all that he seemed.
We also find Tressa developing a more realistic view of Dan and his family.
I found the book reassuring especially as a perfectionist. In a way for me the message of the book was that there are no perfect marriages and no perfect lives. We make out beds and we lie in them or we take charge of our own destiny and change things.
There is no fairy tale but there is our tale and we take a big part in how we steer that story.
I urge you to read this book. I think every reader will get something slightly different out of it and that is wonderful in itself.